Hypable Exclusive Author Interview: Leah Cypess

9:00 am EDT, November 9, 2012
Exclusive

Leah Cypess is the author of the young adult fantasy novel Mistwood, and its companion Nightspell. Her work has earned starred reviews in Kirkus and acclaim from the ALA Booklist and School Library Journal. Leah wrote in her spare time through law school and legal practice, and now lives in Brookline, Massachusetts with her husband and their three children.

Could you tell us 5 random facts about yourself?

1. I like blue

2. I also like green, actually.

3. I think dark blue and forest green match and look great together. And I sometimes dress accordingly, even though everybody I know disagrees violently with my assessment.

4. At other times, I wear clothes that don’t match, but it’s not quite with the same sense of social defiance. It’s just because I have a bad habit of not noticing that clothes are dirty until I’m wearing them and have five minutes to get out the door.

5. I don’t really care that much about colors, or even clothes, in a general sense. But you should beware of saying “random” to me.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer.

I’ve known I wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. In first grade, I wrote a story from the point of view of an ice-cream cone, and when I was eights years old I told my grandmother I intended to be an author when I grew up. (Actually, I intended to be the youngest ever published author, but then I saw this tv news interview with a 7-year-old who had sent a peace poem to Russia, and my dreams died a sudden and painful death.)

My journey to being a published writer, however, was far more complicated. Also at around the age of eight, I started trying to notice how publishers packaged their books and who they published, because I figured this would help me “pick a publisher” when I was ready. I decided I’d go with Greenwillow Books, since they published Diana Wynne Jones and she was my favorite author.

At the age of fifteen, I started sending books and stories to various magazines. I would stop off at the library on my way home from school, go to the Reference section, and painfully copy out entries from Writer’s Market. I got, of course, slews of rejections. I knew to expect that, so my confidence was unabated. There was only one letter that stung – from Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine, the only magazine I actually subscribed to (well, that and Cat Fancy – even though I didn’t have a cat – but that’s a very long story). I loved the selection in that magazine and they were all exactly the types of stories I wrote, so I figured they would be the first to publish me.

But my first rejection letter from Marion Zimmer Bradley was a form letter which explained that, “I am sorry to say that in this story you did not manage to get me sufficiently interested in your characters to care whether they lived and did well or whether a convenient earthquake came and swallowed them all up on the last page.” And yes, you read correctly. That was the standard language on one of her form letters.

At the age of 17, I finally got my first story accepted to publication – at Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine. Thick skins are very important in this business.

I then started sending my first full-length book manuscript to editors. I collected rejections from pretty much every imprint in existence. Over the next five manuscripts, I slowly graduated from form rejections, to “not this one, but send us your next one” rejections, to personal regretful rejections explaining in length why this manuscript wasn’t a good fit, to revision requests, to rejections that came from the acquisitions committee rather than the editor.

Finally, a mere 15 years after my first submission, I got an offer to publish Mistwood. It came from Greenwillow Books.

What has surprised you about writing and publishing?

When it comes to writing, I’m surprised by every book I write. I always think I have a sense of where the story is going, and somewhere along the way, it always takes a left turn. That’s one of my favorite parts of writing, and one of the reasons I don’t outline.

With publishing, pretty much everything surprised me. I had never thought about what happened afterward; that offer to publish, to have a real book with my name on it, was the gold at the end of the rainbow for me.

Why do you feel drawn to the stories you write?

With short stories, I’m usually drawn to an idea that I think is cool and unusual and/or looks at an issue I really care about through a different angle. With novels, I usually need two things – a character that comes to life in my mind and a situation that spurs my imagination.

At what point in the development of an idea do you know that it will become a full-length novel?

It depends on the idea. With Mistwood, I knew somewhere in the middle of the second chapter that this wasn’t actually going to be a short story. With Nightspell, I knew from the start it was a full-length book idea.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

I shut all criticism out of my mind, so I can’t answer that.

Just kidding. Though to be honest, there isn’t any particular critique or review that sticks out in my mind – I do know what seems to bother a lot of people, and those are the things I try hardest to work on. With Mistwood, a number of people felt the secondary characters weren’t as fleshed out as they could be, so that was something I tried to correct while writing Nightspell. With Nightspell, a lot of people didn’t like that there wasn’t enough romance, which is somewhat frustrating to me since I never intended the book to be a romance – but Barnes & Noble shelved it under paranormal romance, so people understandably felt that they didn’t get what they had expected.

What has been the best compliment you’ve received?

What means the most to me are those reviewers who have become fans – who are eagerly anticipating my next book and will read it no matter what it’s about. That’s how I feel about my own favorite authors, and though I don’t think I’m in their league, it’s really amazing to think that there are people who feel that way about my writing.

Where’s your favorite place to write?

A beach on a windy day. Or, in reality: the playground when my kids have friends to play with and therefore don’t interrupt me.

Do you most relate to your main characters, or to secondary characters?

I tend to write in a pretty limited third-person POV, which makes me relate most to my main characters. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the characters who are most like me.

How do you approach writing villains?

I don’t know if I write “villains” (though come to think of it, I may have in Nightspell). I think everyone has reasons for the things they do, even when those things are evil. I also think that understanding someone’s actions is not the same as condoning them.

What is your favorite chapter or scene you’ve written recently?

I have this tendency to love the next thing I’m going to write the best. That said, I recently wrote a rough draft of a scene for the sequel of Deathsworn, and while I can’t say anything about it without major spoilers, I kind of hug myself thinking about it.

(Sorry. I know that is massively uninformative. If it makes you feel any better, I give it about a 30% chance that in a week I’ll look at the scene again and realize it needs to be cut.)

Which is easier to write: The first line or the last line?

The first line!

Which one YA novel do you wish you had when you were a teen?

Split by Swati Avasthi. First, because it’s amazing, and second, because it deals with a topic (spouse abuse) I’ve never really understood – and probably still don’t, but I now understand what I don’t understand.

Do you have things you need in order to write? (i.e. coffee, cupcakes, music?)

Paper. Pen. That’s about it.

What are you working on now?

The aforementioned sequel to Deathsworn. It’s my first time writing a sequel, and it’s been a challenge, but there’s also something very satisfying about getting to stay with the same character for so long.

For more about Leah Cypess:

You can find Cypess’ books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter, and contact her through her website at leahcypess.com.

Your wish is Marvel’s command. Fans have wanted to see a live-action Squirrel Girl adaptation, and it looks like it might actually happen thanks to New Warriors.

If you don’t know who Squirrel Girl is, do yourself a favor and look her up. Her name is Doreen Green and, shockingly, she can talk to squirrels. (Who would’ve guessed?) But it doesn’t stop there! She’s also got super strength and speed.

Fans have been fantasy casting the role for a while, but when Anna Kendrick said she wanted to play the character, the internet went wild.

Read full article

Your wish is Marvel’s command. Fans have wanted to see a live-action Squirrel Girl adaptation, and it looks like it might actually happen thanks to New Warriors.

If you don’t know who Squirrel Girl is, do yourself a favor and look her up. Her name is Doreen Green and, shockingly, she can talk to squirrels. (Who would’ve guessed?) But it doesn’t stop there! She’s also got super strength and speed.

Fans have been fantasy casting the role for a while, but when Anna Kendrick said she wanted to play the character, the internet went wild.

Shannon Purser has also declared her interest in the role. You’ll know her as Barb from Stranger Things, but she’s also just been added to Riverdale.

Before we can start casting, however, we need a show, and according to TV Line, that show is New Warriors.

Marvel and ABC Studios are currently shopping the project around, which would be a half-hour comedy based on the character. One of the tell-tale signs of a Squirrel Girl story line is its lighthearted and humorous nature, so this sounds like a perfect fit.

TV Line reports that the show is being described as “the junior version of The Avengers,” and that “the New Warriors are a superhero squad made up of teenagers.”

Marvel has, of course, brought plenty of its characters to the small screen and to great success. There’s even a chance that this project could be tied to some of the Netflix properties, as Doreen acts as a nanny to Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’ daughter, Danielle, in the comic books.

Just think about that crossover potential.

Are you looking forward to this ‘New Warriors’ show if it stars Squirrel Girl?

Shannon Purser plays fan-favorite character Barb on Stranger Things and now she’s joining a new project on The CW.

A lot of people instantly fell in love with Barb the moment she graced our screens in the Netflix hit series Stranger Things, and who can blame them? She was cool, confident, and not at all worried about what the popular kids thought of her.

Then the Demogorgon arrived. But that’s a tale for another day.

Read full article

Shannon Purser plays fan-favorite character Barb on Stranger Things and now she’s joining a new project on The CW.

A lot of people instantly fell in love with Barb the moment she graced our screens in the Netflix hit series Stranger Things, and who can blame them? She was cool, confident, and not at all worried about what the popular kids thought of her.

Then the Demogorgon arrived. But that’s a tale for another day.

EW is now reporting that Purser has joined Riverdale, the television show based on the Archie comics.

Purser will be portraying Ethel Muggs for at least three episodes.

Don’t expect her to follow in the footsteps of her comic book equivalent, however. Ethel may have a crush on Jughead in the source material, but EW is reporting that she’ll have her heart set on someone else.

Ethel will also be teaming up with Veronica and Betty as they set out to get revenge on Reggie Mantle, Archie’s nemesis.

In July, we brought you our thoughts on the Riverdale pilot after we saw it at San Diego Comic-Con. It’ll be premiering midseason next winter on the CW and provides a darker spin on the original Archie characters as they become wrapped up in a murder mystery.

Though the pilot has already been shot, the remaining 12 episodes have yet to be filmed. Production on the rest of the season will begin in early September, and the show is expected to premiere in early 2017, barring any complications.

Are you looking forward to seeing Shannon Purser on ‘Riverdale’?

The Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Nick Jonas, Dwayne The Rock Johnson-led Jumanji sequel/reboot/whatever has completed its family with the addition of Karen Gilan.

In a Facebook post on Monday, The Rock announced that the Doctor Who alum will be joining Jumanji 2 and rounding out the cast. The Rock bills her character as having “the most important role in our movie.”

“We had to find a girl,” The Rock wrote of casting Gillan in Jumanji 2, “but not just any girl.” He continued:

Read full article

The Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Nick Jonas, Dwayne The Rock Johnson-led Jumanji sequel/reboot/whatever has completed its family with the addition of Karen Gilan.

In a Facebook post on Monday, The Rock announced that the Doctor Who alum will be joining Jumanji 2 and rounding out the cast. The Rock bills her character as having “the most important role in our movie.”

“We had to find a girl,” The Rock wrote of casting Gillan in Jumanji 2, “but not just any girl.” He continued:

A girl who has “Chutzpah”. Guts and talent to stand her ground and hold her own against Nick’s cool rockstar ways, Jack’s relentless energy and genius, Kevin’s masterful timing and skills and the big, brown, bald tattooed guy who just simply stands there and oooooozes smoldering, captivating, sizzling, can’t take your eyes off this brilliant manly man… never mind I got drunk on the ol’ DJ kool aid again.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m proud to announce a girl who’s playing the most important role in our movie – the talented, beautiful and down for a Scottish fight at any time, Ms. Karen Gillan.

And yes, this is the girl who is so bad ass she shaved her freaking head for Guardians of the Galaxy.

The Rock goes on to promise that “this isn’t a remake or a reboot, but a continuation of the awesome Jumanji story we love.”

Filming begins next month in Hawaii and is slated to hit theaters next year.

Gillan is best known for her role as Amy Pond in Doctor Who and, as The Rock notes, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

original-jumanji-movie

The Jumanji “continuation” has been met with lots of skepticism since the original was led by the late Robin Williams. It just seems like an unnecessary, unoriginal idea.